Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Acting White: Black Women Series, Hair Color and Attraction

From the day the first alchemist, with a brunette wife, saw a blond or redhead, hair color has been a sexual attractor, and something to put on and take off. This post is not only about hair color, but skin tone as well, as one can’t really talk about one without the other, especially if the subject is attraction.

With this discussion comes ‘negative sexual selection’, which describes intent away from long-term partnering, and toward casual sex, a grave issue in the black community. Men will pursue sex indiscriminately (including fathering children); while simultaneously remaining selective about the partner to whom they commit themselves. Managing these opposing interests will always be part of the female role, whether we think this is enlightened or not. Moderate hair coloring, within a strategy of looking attractive, is part of this critical family development practice, as well as a good chunk of the $9 billion/year (US) black hair-care industry.

The key to understanding attraction of hair color and skin tone is that humans have an innate sense of what is natural and healthy, as an indication of longevity and reproductive capacity. Any deviation from what looks natural challenges our senses, resulting in negative sexual selection. Also, coloring the hair is a tactic of short-term gain, due to the backend ‘cost’ of unattractiveness, once the natural color returns. For the record, coloring also damages the hair, leads to shortening of average length, and thinning, again enhancing unattractiveness.

Just as women who straighten or curl their hair mimic those women who have naturally straight or curly hair, so too should women behave when they choose to color. Because the genes that govern hair color also exert influence over skin tone (here), the relationship is critical. This is how nature aligns the two into the most attractive combinations. Violate nature’s rules for what goes with what, and viola, you get unattractive. A competent hair stylist is one who knows which hair colors will complement the client.

Enhancing natural color is the most logical coloring behavior, to stand out. Hiding gray, within natural colors, enhances youthfulness and attractiveness. Picking colors that look good on magazine models or Hollywood celebrities is a bad idea, as these rarely transfer as hoped.

As black women's hair comes naturally in brown and black, these are the colors women should stick to with their enhancements, understanding the long-term costs. Blonde and red enhancement should be limited to those women who have fair-hair/skin in their ancestry, so as not to set up a battle with skin tone.

For black females, when a man tells them that their hair looks good, they might consider if his motivation is simply to have sex and move on, or if he is saying that he thinks the woman is a good prospect to consider committing his long-term resources. The fate of large swaths of black humanity rest significantly on the black female response to the male approach. Too often this exchange, around hair and looks, is the seemingly harmless foreplay preceding fatherless children, single motherhood, and underclass struggle.

Up Next: Waist-to-Hip Ratio and Attractiveness.

James C. Collier

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10 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is very biased- "as black hair comes naturally in black and brown, these are the colors women should stick to...". I am a black woman with red hair, naturally. I grew up with a black-blonde, naturally- and she was NOT an albino. Black women are so much more diverse than people give us credit. I think anyone can wear blond, red or purple for that matter.
c'est la vie

James C. Collier said...

Anon@5:08, the very next sentence said, "Blonde and red enhancement should be limited to those women who have fair-hair/skin in their ancestry...". Did you stop reading after the prior sentence?

Anonymous said...

"The fate of large swaths of black humanity rest significantly on the black female response to the male approach. Too often this exchange, around hair and looks, is the seemingly harmless foreplay preceding fatherless children, single motherhood, and underclass struggle."

This is very good advice. Women need to be more discerning as to a man's intent. The "player meter" needs to be on high alert. The carnage wrought upon families in our communities is evidence enough.

laromana said...

Anon says,
"The fate of large swaths of black humanity rest significantly on the black female response to the male approach. Too often this exchange, around hair and looks, is the seemingly harmless foreplay preceding fatherless children, single motherhood, and underclass struggle."

laromana says,
It's NOT JUST the BW's RESPONSIBILITY to have the "right response to the BM approach", it's ALSO the BM'S RESPONSIBILITY to not CREATE the problems of fatherless children, single motherhood, and underclass struggle in the BC by CHOOSING to PROVIDE FOR/RAISE the children THEY HELP CREATE.

James C. Collier said...

Laromana, men are motivated by sex, while women are motivated by procreation. As you suggest, balance would be better, but humanity simply was not constructed in this way. The proper offering of sex and legacies is the contribution of women, for the survival and advancement of the species.

Jessica said...

This is basically a short article about what looks natural on black women, not what we should or should not do to our hair.
In any case, black people put ourselves in catagories way to quickly with what is "black" and what is not. Acting black typically means ignorant, loud, obnoxious and so forth. While acting "white" means sophisticated, well educated, and accepted.
We as a community really need to chill out with all of this "acting black or acting white" bull. Its hurtful more than helpful. The root of it all around seems to be acceptance. We can't all trace our heritages so really blacks are still trying to find our true "culture". Our culture to the outside world seems to still revolve around crime, unfathered children and hip hop. Seriously people, the more emphasis WE as a community put on those things..the more they will stick with the worlds eye. We really need to stop letting stereotypes get to us and be perpetuated. We shouldn't follow or believe them ourselves and others will start to see us for more than they do.
Being half white and half black I catch hell from both sides. As for hair issues. Hair is hair people. Get over it. If a dark woman wants to dye her hair platinum...let her. If a fair skinned woman wants to dye hers black...let her. It doesnt look natural at all but people know that going into dying their hair. White people included. Look at Japanese animation characters. Their hair is crazy colors. Its all about style it has nothing to do with wanting to be white or black. Though some black men and women do think that way and want to be white and reject everything stereotypically "black" by dating only asian and white women. Doesn't me we all have an inferiority complex and it shouldnt.
The sooner we get over it, the sooner the world will.

Kyndall said...

Amen Jessica. Why people continue to push this self identity problems regarding black women is besides me. White women wear weave, tan their skin, and botox any body part they wish. Yet, they are just trying to 'enhance' their looks. Why cant that be the same for black women? Black people put black people down more and more often. Instead of blogging about the black woman's flaws go help them who struggle. And btw I'm black, I live in a decent house, I'm not a single mother, and I know and have an amazing relationship with both of my parents.

Anonymous said...

From the aborinals of Australia we know that Black skin can support blond hair, even straightish blond hair. Blue eyes and blond hair are not exclusive to whites.

Egmond Codfried

Anonymous said...

The fact that you equate a black woman choosing an "unnatural" hair color equates to "harmless foreplay preceding fatherless children, single motherhood, and underclass struggle." is a bit rash. Blacks have the most diverse gene pool of any race. I was born with natural red hair and freckles and NO I am not light or fair colored.

Tandi said...

African-American women have the option to relax and color their hair any shade that they please. Changing your hair is a fashion statement and it is not based on how we view ourselves or skin color. Stop over analyzing the black woman. We are educated, successful, and confidant! We make our own rules when it comes to fashion.